Throwback Thursday: Black Sabbath (1963)

Posted: January 8, 2010 by Rebecca in Horror Movies, Throwback Thursday
Tags: , , , ,

A new feature in which I will watch a classic horror flick (pre-1975ish), and will throw out some thoughts, give a brief synopsis, and probably do a longer review, if inspired.

The first of my Throwback Thursday films will be Black Sabbath, not a movie about the band, but the movie that inspired the band’s name.  If you would like to read the history of how Black Sabbath got their name, click here!  In summary, they were inspired when a movie theater across the street from their rehearsal room was playing Black Sabbath, and the band started wondering about why people pay to go see horror movies.  After Ozzy Osborne wrote a dark and ominous song with the name “Black Sabbath”, they changed the band’s name to this as well to better match their new sound, which was the musical equivalent of a horror film. Well enough about that, let’s get on with the movie!

Black Sabbath (1963)

(AKA The Three Faces of Fear) (AKA I Tre Volti Della Paura)

Directed by Mario Bava


Black Sabbath is an anthology film directed by Italian horror maestro, Mario Bava.  His more famous film is Black Sunday (1960), and he also directed Blood and Black Lace (1964), which is one of the earliest giallo films, and also is said to have inspired the “body count” of the slasher film.  The three segments of the film are “The Telephone”, “The Wurdalak”, and “The Drop of Water”.  Boris Karloff is our host to these three unrelated segments.

The Telephone

In “The Telephone”, a woman, Rosy, returns to her apartment after a night out, and begins getting strange calls from a man, who tells her that she will find out who he is, right before he kills her.  He obviously can see her as well, noting things about her appearance, and her apartment.  Understandably the woman is terrified, and calls her friend Mary, who is a hinted at being a former lover of Rosy’s.   What happens next I will leave a mystery, as I don’t want to ruin the twist!  Scream’s opening was obviously inspired by this short film.  Also notable, is that this segment was the first Italian thriller to be shot in color, according to IMDb.

The Wurdalak

“The Wurdalak” is about a man, Count Vladimire d’Urfe, who comes upon a headless corpse with a knife stabbed in his back while he is travelling.  He stops at a house to inquire about the body, or possibly to stay the night, and sees that the knife that was in the man’s back, matches some knives that he sees on the wall of the house.  One of the men who lives in the house, after introductions, tells the Count that the knife is his fathers.  He tells him that his father has been gone for five days, he was out to hunt down an evil man, a wurdalak, and he told his family that if was not home within five days, that they were to kill him.  Well, the father, played by Boris Karloff, does return, but right after the five-day mark, so the family does not know what to do.  Do they let him in, or do they kill them.  He seems somewhat normal, but also slightly off.  Our main character, the Count is confused, but one of the women, who he has fallen in love with at first sight, tells him that they fear the father has become a wurdalak.  In her words, “The Wurdalacks are bloodthirsty corpses.  They yearn for the blood of those they loved most when they were alive…The more they’ve loved someone, the more they long to kill them, to suck their blood.  Those killed in this way also become wurdalak until someone manages to stab them in the heart.”  So the wurdalak is very similar to the vampire.  To find out what happens, you’ll just have to watch for yourself.  One of my favorite parts of this segment are the colors that are used in the filming, especially in the outside scenes.  To me, this segment has an almost fairytaleish/dreamlike quality.

The Drop of Water

The final segment, “A Drop of Water”, is about a nurse who is called to her employer’s house late one night, because the old woman who lives in the house has died, and the housekeeper is scared, and wants the nurse to help dress the old woman, as she has experience with dead people.  The housekeeper tells the nurse that the old woman did not die of a heart attack, as the doctor has declared, but due to a the spirits she brought out during her weekly seances.  While dressing the old woman, the nurse is drawn to a ring on the woman’s finger, and removes it, and takes it for her own.  After this she begins to experience strange things, she is bothered by a fly that will not go away, and she keeps hearing the magnified sound of dropping water.  She returns to her apartment, where these weird things seem to follow her.  This segment also uses the blues and purples of the previous segment.  The thing that stands out to me the most is the terrifying face of the old woman!

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